Views of China and Russia Decline in Global Poll

Views of China and Russia Decline in Global Poll

February 5, 2009

Full Report (PDF)

Public views of China and Russia have slipped considerably in the past year, according to a new BBC World Service poll across 21 countries.

Views of the US have improved modestly over the past year but remain predominantly negative, even though the poll was taken after President Obama’s election.

In last year’s BBC Poll across the same countries, people leaned toward saying China and Russia were having positive influences in the world. But views of China are now divided, with positive ratings having slipped six points to 39 per cent, while 40 per cent are now negative. Negative views of Russia have jumped eight points so that now, substantially more have a negative (42%) than a positive view (30%) of Russia’s influence.

Views of the US showed improvements in Canada, Egypt, Ghana, India, Italy and Japan. But far more countries have predominantly negative views of America (12), than predominantly positive views (6). Most Europeans show little change and views of the US in Russia and China have grown more negative. On average, positive views have risen from 35 per cent to 40 per cent, but they are still outweighed by negative views (43%, down from 47%).

As was the case last year, Iran, Israel and Pakistan are the three countries rated most negatively. Iran had the poorest average ratings of the countries people were asked to rate, with 58 per cent feeling it has a negative influence in the world. Fifteen of the twenty one countries see it as having a negative influence.

Pakistan also gets very low ratings with 56 per cent giving negative ratings and 16 percent positive ones. Eighteen countries see Pakistan as having a negative influence.

The largest number of countries – 19 out of 21 – give negative ratings to Israel. The two exceptions are Americans (where slightly more are positive) and Russians (who are divided). On average, 52 per cent in countries polled say it is having a negative influence and 22 per cent say it is having a positive influence.

It should be noted that most polling occurred before Israel undertook its military operation in Gaza, and before the recent interruption in Russian gas supplies to Europe.

As last year, the most positive views are of Germany, with positive ratings rising even higher from 55 per cent to 61 per cent on average. Every country polled has a favourable view of Germany.

The UK has also moved up seven points, with an average of 58 per cent today saying it is having a positive influence.

The BBC World Service Poll has been tracking opinions about country influence in the world since 2005. The latest results are based on 13,575 in-home or telephone interviews conducted across a total of 21 countries by the international polling firm GlobeScan, together with the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland. GlobeScan coordinated fieldwork between 21 November 2008 and 1 February 2009.

GlobeScan Chairman Doug Miller comments: “Our poll results suggest that China has much to learn about winning hearts and minds in the world. It seems that a successful Olympic Games has not been enough to offset other concerns that people have.
“As for Russia, the more it acts like the old Soviet Union, the less people outside its borders seem to like it.”

Steven Kull, director of PIPA, comments, “Though BBC polls have shown that most people around the world are hopeful that Barack Obama will improve US relations with the world, it is clear that his election alone is not enough to turn the tide. People are still looking to see if there are significant changes in US policies.”

Detailed Findings

Public opinion in Russia relative to public opinion in Europe and the US seems to be polarizing. Americans and Europeans have both grown more negative toward Russia, and Russians have become more negative toward the US, the EU, and less positive toward Germany and the UK (but not France). Russia’s military action against Georgia and increasing limitations on civil rights may be affecting American and European attitudes, and US and European criticism of Russia may be affecting Russian attitudes. [Note that the polling was done before Russia’s cut-off of natural gas supplies to Ukraine and parts of Europe.]

To some extent this polarizing trend seems to be appearing in relations between China and the West as well. Europeans have become more negative toward China, while the Chinese have become more negative toward the US (negative views have risen from 46% to 58%), the EU (16% to 28%), and France (positive views dropped from 64% to 44%–perhaps in reaction to French demonstrations regarding the Tibet issue).

However, Chinese views of the UK have grown more positive (rising from 56% to 67%), as have views of Germany (58% to 65%). And Americans have not grown more negative toward China, with negative views essentially unchanged at 52 per cent.

The US for the first time since 2005 has surpassed Russia in positive ratings (an average of 40% for the US as compared to 30% for Russia), but their negative ratings are similar as are the number of countries giving them predominantly positive or negative ratings.

Sixteen of the countries polled say Japan is having a mostly positive influence in the world. But for the first time, Japan’s average ratings have slipped behind those of the UK, due to an increase in the UK’s positive rating. Japan suffered from declining views in Germany, Russia, Turkey and the UK.

France’s positive ratings have edged upward from 49 per cent to 52 per cent and 18 of the countries polled give it a positive rating. American public opinion towards France continues to gradually improve; for the first time since the BBC started tracking in 2005, a majority of Americans give France a positive rating. While in 2005, 52 per cent of Americans had a negative view of France (37% positive), now 52 per cent have a positive view (28% negative).

Views of India continue to lean toward the positive, but there has been some erosion. Positive views have slipped from 41 per cent to 39 per cent and negative views have risen from 30 per cent to 33 per cent. This is largely driven by sharp increases in negative views in European countries – France (35% to 50%), Germany (34% to 54%), Italy (30% to 43%), and Spain (35% to 47%) – as well as China (30% to 44%).

North Korea continues to garner quite negative views with an average of 51 per cent (up 4 points) saying it is having a negative influence, and 20 per cent a positive influence. Fifteen countries give it poor ratings, but views are divided in Central America, Chile, China, Egypt, Nigeria and Russia, and lean positive in Ghana.

Canada has the second-most positive ratings with 59 per cent seeing it as having a positive influence in the world. In only one country – Turkey – are views predominantly negative. Positive views are up on average 3 points from two years ago.

The EU has all but one country (Turkey) giving it positive ratings. On average 54 per cent see it as having a positive influence. Its ratings have remained essentially unchanged since last year. The biggest changes have been downward movements in Russia (positive views dropping from 51% to 31%), Turkey (44% to 34%), and China (negative views rising from 16% to 28%). German positive views of the EU have risen (72% to 81%).

All but two countries have a positive view of Brazil. However, their ratings are more modest, with an average of 43 per cent giving them a positive rating and 24 per cent a negative rating. Positive views have risen three points over last year.

South Africa, assessed for the first time this year, elicits evenly-divided views. Average ratings are balanced (33% positive, 32% negative). The most positive ratings come from its African neighbours, Nigeria (62%) and Ghana (60%). The most critical country is Germany (53% negative).

In total 13,575 citizens in Australia, Canada, Chile, China, Central America (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama), Egypt, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, Philippines, Russia, Spain, Turkey, UK and USA were interviewed face-to-face or by telephone between 21 November 2008 and 1 February 2009. Polling was conducted for the BBC World Service by the international polling firm GlobeScan and its research partners in each country. In 7 of the 21 countries, the sample was limited to major urban areas. The margin of error per country ranges from +/-3.3 to 4.4 per cent, 19 times out of 20. Average figures quoted for the US, Russia and China include all 21 countries. For other countries, average scores exclude Mexico and Indonesia.
Global Views of: China, Russia, the United States, France, the European Union, Japan, Israel, Canada, the United Kingdom, India, Pakistan, South Africa, North Korea, Iran, Brazil, Germany


While views of China were predominantly positive in 2008, they have eroded substantially so that views are now generally divided. On average, in 2008, 45 per cent had a positive view while 33 per cent had a negative view. But now positive views have slipped six points to 39 per cent, while negative views have risen to 40 per cent. While in 2008 16 countries had a predominantly positive view and five a negative view, now 10 countries’ views of China’s influence are mainly positive, while in nine they are mainly negative and in one they are divided.

Negative views have grown most significantly in European countries over the past year, including France (70%, up from 46%), Italy (68%, up from 50%), Germany (69%, up from 59%), and Spain (54%, up from 32%), with corresponding drops in positive views. Positive attitudes among Britons have also dropped (39%, down from 48%) while 42 per cent now say China has a negative influence in the world, making attitudes in the United Kingdom divided.

Other countries that have seen views of China worsen considerably include Turkey, the Philippines, Egypt, and Australia. Turkey has shown a dramatic decrease in positive views of China (18%, down from 30%) while negative views have increased (64%, up from 58%). A majority in the Philippines now sees China’s influence as mainly negative (52%, up from 30%), while positive views have dropped also (39%, down from 48%). Egyptians have seen positive views of China drop 20 points (62%, down from 82%), though negative attitudes remain stable (11%). While Australians most commonly still see China as a positive influence, positive attitudes have decreased (47%, down from 60%), while negative attitudes have grown (37%, up from 28%).

Attitudes about China in the United States have remained somewhat stable. While a majority (52%) in the US continues to view China’s influence as mainly negative, there has been little change in both positive and negative attitudes over the previous year.

Eight countries continue to show positive views of China’s influence, including large majorities in Ghana (75%, up from 56%), Nigeria (72%), and Central America (62%). A majority in Chile has a favourable view (60%), while Mexicans lean positive (34% positive to 26% negative), as do Indians (30% positive to 24% negative). In Russia, attitudes have remained largely stable with most saying China has a positive influence rather than negative (45% positive to 18% negative).


Attitudes about Russia have worsened dramatically in some cases over the past year. On average, views of Russia have moved from divided to predominantly negative, as positives have fallen 5 points (30%, down from 35%) and negatives have risen sharply (42%, up from 34%). In 13 countries the view of Russia’s influence is most commonly negative, while in just four countries views are predominantly positive and feelings are mixed in three others. The previous year, only nine countries had negative overall views, seven were positive, and four were divided.

Positive views about Russia have deteriorated substantially in many countries polled, especially in Europe and the United States. In the United Kingdom, positive views have fallen 23 points (25%, down from 45%), shifting the overall leaning to predominantly negative from positive. Negative views have worsened in France (rising from 50% to 66%), and Germany (rising from 56% to 70%). In the United States negative views have risen 28 points (64%, up from 36%), shifting overall views from mildly positive (45% to 18%) to strongly negative (64%). However views in Spain remain largely stable with 55 per cent negative. Italy is the exception to the trend with positive views rising from 23 per cent to 34 per cent, though most (48%) still have negative views.

Other countries that have grown sharply more negative toward Russia are Egypt, Nigeria, and Turkey. In Egypt, positive attitudes have dropped 36 points (42%, down from 78%), although Egypt’s overall evaluation continues to lean positive. In Nigeria, positive views have fallen (37%, down from 49%) so that overall attitudes about Russia’s influence are now divided rather than positive. Turkey also has a substantial rise in negative attitudes (64%, up from 46%).

The only countries to demonstrate significant improvement in positive views of Russia are Italy (34%, up from 23%), Ghana (50%, up from 42%), which continues to have positive views overall, and India (39%, up from 25%) which also leans positive overall. The Chinese show the most widespread positive evaluations of Russia’s influence out of all countries polled (74%).

In the Americas, two countries have largely mixed feelings about Russia’s influence: Chile (35% positive to 33% negative) and Mexico (22% positive to 21% negative). Canadian views of Russia are quite negative (54%) and Central American’s lean negative (29% positive to 36% negative).

The United States

On average, views of US influence have improved somewhat over the previous year, although they remain predominantly negative in most countries. Among countries polled in both 2008 and 2009, positive views have risen on average (40%, up from 35%) and negative views have fallen (43%, down from positive to 47% negative). In 12 countries views are predominantly negative, while in six they lean positive with views divided in two countries. In the previous year only five countries had overall positive views of the United States, two were divided and 15 were predominantly negative.

Substantial improvements in attitudes toward the US have occurred mainly in Egypt, Italy, India, Canada, and Turkey. Egypt showed a remarkable shift: positive views increased by 24 points (40%, up from 16%) and negative views fell equally dramatically (48%, down from 73%). In Italy, positive views of the US have increased (55%, up from 39%) and negative views dropped, while a similar shift occurred in India, with positive views rising (43%, up from 18%), so that positive is now the predominant view in both countries. In Canada positive views have risen 11 points (38%, up from 27%), although a majority (55%) still views US influence as mainly negative. Though most Turks evaluate the US negatively, the majority saying US influence is mainly negative has decreased (63%, down from 73%).

Interestingly, attitudes about the US have become even more negative in both China and Russia. In Russia negative attitudes have grown by 12 points (65%, up from 53%), while in China, negative attitudes have expanded by 12 points (58%, up from 46%).

In most other European countries, attitudes about the US remain quite negative, including Germany (65%), Spain (56%), and France (53%).

In the Americas, views in Mexico are also predominantly negative (54%), however views in Chile remain mixed (42% positive, 42% negative).

US influence continues to receive the best ratings in African countries and the Philippines. Attitudes are quite positive in Ghana (76%, up from 65%) and Nigeria (65%), and the Philippines give the US the best ratings (80%). Central Americans have a majority positive (64%) as well.


Global views of France remain largely positive. Among countries polled in both 2008 and 2009, positive views have increased somewhat on average (52%, up from 49%), while negative attitudes have remained stable (21%). Eighteen countries most commonly say that France has a mainly positive influence in the world; the only change since last year being that China went from being predominantly positive to divided.

China and Turkey are the only countries that are not predominantly positive. Positive views of France have dropped dramatically in China from the previous year (44%, down from 64%), while those saying that France has a mainly negative influence in the world have risen sharply (45%, up from 11%). Only Turkey has a majority that sees France’s influence as mainly negative, although this has decreased somewhat from 2008 (58%, down from 65%), while only 20 percent see its influence as mainly positive.

Attitudes about France’s influence in the world have improved most noticeably in Egypt and the United States. Egyptians show the most marked improvement in views of France in the past year, with positive views of its influence rising to a majority (52%, up from 42%) and negative attitudes dropping sharply (18%, down from 35%). American attitudes about France continue to steadily improve, with a majority now holding positive views (52%, up from 48% in 2008 and 38% in 2007).

France’s neighbours have the large majorities saying it has a mainly positive influence in the world: Spain (74%) and Italy (72%). Other Europeans are more modestly positive: Russia (56%), Germany (55%), and United Kingdom (55%).

In other regions, attitudes about France are clearly positive or lean positive. Majorities of Canadians (67%) and Chileans (63%) demonstrate positive attitudes about France as well, while favourable views have grown in Australia (56%, up from 49%). Attitudes are somewhat more lukewarm in other countries, although the most common view is that France’s influence is mainly positive: Nigeria (46% positive to 27% negative), Central America (46% positive to 23% negative), Indonesia (42% positive to 20% negative); India (37% positive to 14% negative), and Mexico (36% positive to 21% negative).

The European Union

Attitudes about the European Union remain positive in most countries, although negative views have grown considerably in a few cases. On average among countries polled in both 2008 and 2009 (excluding EU countries) positive views (54%) continue to outweigh negative views (20%, up from 18%). Among these 14 countries, 13 have predominantly positive views of EU influence, while Turkey is the only country where more have a mainly negative view. Turkey is the only country to shift its view going from divided to negative.

Favourable attitudes about the European Union have remained widely positive in most countries polled in Africa, the Americas, and Australia. Positive views of the EU have grown somewhat in Ghana (70%, up from 64%), while in most other countries positive views of the EU have remained relatively stable. Majorities in Canada (73%), Australia (65%), Chile (64%), the United States (62%), Nigeria (58%), and Central America (56%) all express positive attitudes about EU influence.

However, attitudes about EU influence in the world have worsened in Russia and China. In Russia, positive views of the EU have declined 20 points (31%, down from 51%), while negative views are up (23%, up from 11%) though Russians still lean slightly toward a positive view. Similarly, negative views of the EU influence in the world have grown significantly in China (28%, up from 16%) and positive attitudes have declined (57%, down from 62%), though a majority remains positive overall.

Turkey is the only country that now leans toward seeing the EU as having a mainly negative influence in the world, as positive views have decreased (34%, down from 44%), and negative views have become more widespread (44%, up from 40%).

All EU countries have robust majorities declaring it a positive influence, including Germany (81%), Spain (76%), Italy (72%), and France (71%). In the United Kingdom, positive views have decreased slightly (55%, down from 61%), though only 28 per cent call the EU influence mainly negative.


Overall evaluations for Japan remain largely positive, although negative views have increased slightly on average and positive views have dropped in several countries. Among the countries polled in both 2008 and 2009, Japan continues to receive majority positive views on average (57%), while one in five (20%) view Japan’s influence as negative. Sixteen countries give Japan’s influence a predominantly positive rating, only two give a negative rating (China and Turkey), and two more are evenly divided (Germany and Mexico). In the previous year, 17 countries had positive views of Japan, while only China was predominantly negative.

Positive attitudes about Japan have grown substantially. The largest increases in positive views of Japan can be seen in Ghana (67%, up from 48%), India (44%, up from 26%), Central America (63% up from 53%), Canada (70%, up from 61%), and Egypt (52%, up from 45%). Positive attitudes have also increased in China (40%, up from 30%), though overall more still see Japan’s influence as negative (50%, down from 55%). Indonesia has a large majority viewing Japan’s influence positively (70%), as do Chile (67%) and the United States (67%).

However, in Turkey and Germany views of Japan’s influence have worsened substantially. Positive views of Japan have deteriorated most significantly in Turkey, where more now say Japan’s influence is mostly negative (47%, up from 29%) than positive (30%, down from 56%). Germans’ attitudes about Japan have also worsened, with positive views dropping 14 points (38%, down from 52%) and negative views increasing (38%, up from 30%) making opinion divided overall. Mexicans also have a divided view of Japan’s influence in the world (27% positive, 27% negative).

Other countries have seen downward shifts in attitudes about Japan, but overall views remain favourable. Decreases in positive views have occurred in Russia (49%, down from 59%), and the United Kingdom (60%, down from 70%), although the most common view in both countries is that Japan’s influence is still positive. Negative views have increased considerably in France (37%, up from 22%) as well, though 49 per cent view Japan positively.


Views of Israel have remained consistently negative with on average about one-half having a negative view and only one in five (22%) having a positive view. Nineteen countries have a predominantly negative view of Israel’s influence and only the United States leans positive while Russia is divided. (It should be noted that most polling was completed before the Israeli military action in Gaza.)

In three countries negative views of Israel have increased considerably: Nigeria (45%, up from 38%) and India (30%, up from 14%), both of which have moved to a predominantly negative view of Israel from divided, and in Spain (71%, up from 64%).

Attitudes about Israel are unsurprisingly negative in the predominantly Muslim countries polled. Egypt remains the country with the most negative view of Israel’s influence in the world (87% negative), while 70 per cent of Turks and 60 per cent of Indonesians share this view. Negative views of Israel are also widespread in Australia (67%), Germany (65%), and the Philippines (63%).

At the same time, there appeared to be some decline in negative views, however polling was largely completed before the military action in Gaza began. Negative views of Israel fell significantly in the United Kingdom (51%, down from 63%), Turkey (70%, down from 78%), and Italy (43%, down from 53%).

Only Russia and the United States express divided or favourable views of Israel’s influence. In Russia, negative views have fallen somewhat (21%, down from 29%) so that the country is now divided (24% positive to 21% negative). Attitudes about Israel’s influence in the US remain predominantly positive (47% positive to 34% negative).


Evaluations of Canada are the second most positive out of all countries. On average, 59 per cent have a positive view. Eighteen countries have a predominantly positive view, while views are divided in Egypt and predominantly negative in Turkey. Canada was not polled in 2008, but in most countries it was polled in 2007.

Notable increases in positive views of Canada have occurred across the globe, including in the Philippines (83%, up from 67%), the United States (82%, up from 65%), China (75%, up from 65%), Italy (74%, up from 62%), and the United Kingdom (74%, up from 65%). Positive attitudes in Egypt have also dramatically increased (26%, up from 12%), making Egypt’s views of Canada’s influence divided overall.

Widespread majorities continue to give positive evaluations of Canada in France (79%), Australia (77%), Chile (64%), Germany (64%), Spain (64%) and Central America (58%). Attitudes also lean positively in Mexico (43% positive to 16% negative), Indonesia (36% positive to 21% negative), and India (30% positive to 13% negative).

Attitudes about Canada have become considerably more negative only in Turkey and Russia. Views have become sharply more negative in Turkey (49%, up from 20%), while positive views have fallen as well, but less dramatically (20%, down from 28%). In Russia, positive views deteriorated significantly, falling 15 points over the previous year (36%, down from 51%), although overall views of Canada still lean positive.

The United Kingdom

Attitudes about the United Kingdom have improved overall and on average are led only by Germany and Canada out of all countries evaluated. Among those countries polled in both 2008 and 2009, on average positive views have increased six points (58%, up from 51%), while negative views have fallen slightly (19%, down from 22%). In 17 countries views of the United Kingdom’s influence are mainly positive (up from 15 in 2008), while they are most commonly negative in two (Mexico and Turkey).

Attitudes have grown more positive in numerous countries, including Egypt (58%, up from 45%), the Philippines (67%, up from 41%), China (67%, up from 56%), the United States (75%, up from 45%), India (37%, up from 22%), Central America (44%, up from 31%) and Ghana (78%, up from 69%). Other countries with large majorities that see UK’s influence as mainly positive include Canada (74%), and Italy (71%).

However, positive views of the UK have slipped considerably in Turkey and Nigeria and attitudes are predominantly negative in Mexico. In Turkey, positive attitudes have declined (24%, down from 36%) while negative views have increased (59%, up from 48%). Negative views of the UK have also increased 10 points in Nigeria (29%, up from 19%), but its overall view of the UK’s influence remains positive. Mexicans lean toward seeing the United Kingdom’s influence as mainly negative (39% negative to 19% positive).


Views of India have taken a somewhat negative turn in the past year, though overall views still lean positive and there are few countries wherein more than one half give a negative view. Among those countries polled in both 2008 and 2009, on average negative views have increased (33%, up from 30%) and positive views have fallen slightly (39%, down from 41%). In 11 countries attitudes about India’s influence are predominantly positive, while they are divided in three and predominantly negative in six. A number of countries have shifted their views though the overall distribution has been largely stable.

Increasingly negative views of India were found in Germany (54%, up from 34%), Turkey (53%, up from 41%), France (50%, up from 35%), and Spain (47%, up from 35%).

Rising negative views in China (44%, up from 30%), and Italy (43%, up from 30%) have now made overall attitudes toward India divided in these countries.

Positive views fell significantly in Egypt (24%, down from 35%), although decreasing negative views have made Egyptian attitudes divided overall. Australia saw a similarly sharp drop in positive views of India (53%, down from 71%), though a majority maintains a favourable view of India on the whole.

In other countries views of India’s influence are predominantly positive, though somewhat lukewarm. Attitudes in Russia (48%) and Indonesia (38%) lean positively.

However, there have been improvements in views of India in three countries. The most marked improvement in attitudes about India’s influence occurred in the United Kingdom, with positive views increasingly dramatically (59%, up from 34%) and negative views dropping sharply (24%, down from 56%). Views in Ghana also improved (57%, up from 46%).


Pakistan continues to receive some of the most negative evaluations among all countries polled, with views deteriorating significantly in some cases. On average among tracking countries, negative views of Pakistan have increased (56%, up from 54%). Eighteen countries have mainly negative views of Pakistan’s influence in the world, while just one (Mexico) leans toward a positive view and two countries are divided (Indonesia and Nigeria).

Views of Pakistan have worsened considerably in a number of countries and remain quite negative in others. Increasingly negative evaluations of Pakistan’s influence are most notable in Spain (78%, up from 71%), France (75%, up from 60%), the Philippines (71%, up from 53%) and Central America (50% up from 39%). The United States has seen positive views fall (12%, down from 21%), while 69 per cent have a mainly negative view of Pakistan’s influence.

Even in predominantly Muslim countries attitudes about Pakistan are fairly negative. Turkey has also seen a significant increase in negative attitudes about Pakistan (56%, up from 48%). In Egypt, 41 per cent say they have a mainly negative view of Pakistan’s influence in the world (25% positive). Indonesia also expresses overall divided views of Pakistan (30% positive, 29% negative).

Apart from Indonesia, attitudes about Pakistan lean positive or are mixed in only two other countries. Mexico is the only country that leans toward a positive view of Pakistan’s influence in the world (36% positive to 26% negative), while Nigerians hold mixed views of Pakistan (32% positive, 35% negative).

Positive views of Pakistan have grown in China and the United Kingdom, but the overall view of its influence is still negative. China has the largest number of all countries (39%, up from 30%) saying Pakistan’s influence in the world is mainly positive, though more Chinese say it negative (46%, up from 38%). In the United Kingdom positive views have increased (24%, up from 14%), though a majority still takes a negative view (54%).

South Africa

Evaluated for the first time this year, views of South Africa’s influence in the world are largely divided. Among the 21 countries polled, eight countries have predominantly positive views of South Africa, while nine countries have predominantly negative views, and four countries are divided. On average, 33 per cent say that South Africa’s influence in the world is mainly positive, while 32 per cent say that it is mainly negative.

The most widespread positive views of South Africa can be found among its African neighbours, including majorities in Nigeria (62%) and Ghana (60%). Nearly half in China (49%) and Mexico (46%) also have positive views of South Africa’s influence.

Among the countries with predominantly negative views of South Africa, the most negative are found in Germany (53%), Turkey (48%) and United Kingdom (47%). Negative views of South Africa’s influence are also the most common among those in Spain (44%), Canada (42%) and the United States (40%).

Four countries have largely divided views on the influence of South Africa in the world: France (38% positive, 35% negative), Italy (38% positive, 39% negative), Egypt (30% positive, 27% negative) and Central America (29% positive, 31% negative).

North Korea

Views of North Korea’s influence in the world have become somewhat more negative over the past year. Those holding mainly positive views fell slightly (20%, down from 22%) and those with negative views increased (51%, up from 47%). Fifteen countries have negative views, five are divided, and only one has a positive view. In the previous year, 12 countries had negative views, three were divided and five countries had predominantly positive views.

Negative views of North Korea have grown dramatically in most European countries polled. Negative views increased in Italy (59%, up from 52%) Germany (69%, up from 62%), and France (73%, up from 63%). The United Kingdom is the exception with negative views dropping from 64 per cent to 57 per cent, but it still leans predominantly negative.

In China, negative views of North Korea increased sharply (44%, up from 32%) while positive views fell (42%, down from 47%), making China now divided on North Korea rather than leaning positive as in the previous year.

Negative views persist in the United States (76% mainly negative), Canada (69%) and Australia (64%).

Ghana is the only country to lean toward viewing North Korea positively, where positive views increased significantly (43%, up from 21%) while negative views dropped to 24 per cent (down from 30%).

Four other countries give divided evaluations of North Korea: Russia (22% positive, 20% negative), Nigeria (33% positive, 35% negative), Central America (34% positive, 33% negative), and Egypt (29% positive, 28% negative).


Global views of Iran continue to be among the most negative out of all countries evaluated. On average out of countries polled in both 2008 and 2009, more than half (58%) continue to say Iran’s influence is mainly negative, while just 17 per cent say its influence is mainly positive. Fifteen countries view Iran’s influence negatively, only one country (India) leans toward viewing it positively, and five are divided. This however represents a slight improvement since 2008, when 17 countries had mostly negative views.

In five countries, negative views of Iran grew considerably. Egypt’s view of Iran went from positive to predominantly negative, with the positive rating dropping significantly (36%, down from 62%) and the negative rating increasing (41%, up from 24%). The two largest increases were in the United States (79%, up from 55%) and the Philippines (72%, up from 53%). Views also grew more negative in France (77%, up from 70%), Mexico (25%, up from 18%) and Central America (49%, up from 42%).

However, views softened somewhat in three countries, with substantial drops in negative views. This includes Russia (32%, from 45%), the United Kingdom (68%, from 79%), and Nigeria (36%, down from 43%). In Russia and United Kingdom negative influence is still the dominant view, while Nigeria is divided.

Other improvements in views of Iran occurred in China and Ghana, while Indonesia and Mexico show mixed attitudes. In China, positive views increased (41%, up from 31%), moving views of Iran’s influence from predominantly negative to divided (41% positive to 45% negative). Ghana experienced a similar shift, with positive views improving (36%, up from 26%), making overall views now divided as well. Other countries with mixed views on Iran include Indonesia (32% to 31%) and Mexico (21% to 25%).

India is the only country that leans toward a positive view of Iran’s influence in the world (24% positive to 17% negative), a shift from being divided the previous year, although very large numbers decline to choose either option.


Brazil continues to receive largely positive evaluations from global publics, with only a few countries showing any significant changes in their views of Brazil’s influence. On average among countries polled in both 2008 and 2009, those saying Brazil has a mainly positive influence have remained stable (43%), while a much smaller number see its influence as mainly negative (24%). Eighteen countries have predominantly positive views of Brazil, while just two lean towards negative views (Germany and Turkey) and one country is divided (United Kingdom). While some countries have shifted their positions, the overall distribution of country views is unchanged.

Positive views have improved significantly in five countries that were already positive last year. China has seen an increase in positive views of Brazil (65%, up from 52%), as is the case in Ghana (50%, up from 36%), Italy (49%, up from 39%), Central America (49%, up from 38%) and India (24%, up from 11%). Mexico and Chile are among the most positive with 78 percent and 64 percent holding positive views, respectively.

Egypt has seen a drop in negative views of Brazil (26%, down from 43%), making Egypt now lean positive toward Brazil on the whole (33% to 26%).

France, the United States and United Kingdom have seen views of Brazil worsen, but views remain positive or divided overall. France saw growth of negative views of Brazil (33%, up from 23%), though positive views remained largely stable (42%). In both the United States and the United Kingdom there were substantial decreases in positive views of Brazil: the US still leans positive overall (47% positive to 23% negative), while the UK is now divided (32% positive to 35% negative).

Negative attitudes about Brazil’s influence are predominant only in Germany and Turkey. Germans have become increasingly negative about Brazil’s influence, with negative views growing (40%, up from 28%) and positive views falling (30%, down from 35%), making Germany lean toward negative attitudes overall. Turkey remains the only other country with a negative view of Brazil (33% positive to 45% negative).


Germany receives the highest overall positive ratings of any country evaluated, with substantial growth in positive views in many countries. On average 61 per cent have a positive view of Germany’s influence in the world (up from 55%), while just 15 per cent have a negative view (down from 18%). In no country are negative attitudes about Germany the predominant view; a slight improvement over last year when two countries had a negative view.

Notable improvements of views of Germany have occurred worldwide. Attitudes in both Turkey and Egypt have moved from negative to predominantly positive over the previous year with negative views dropping 16 points in Egypt (27% , from 43%) and 11 points in Turkey (36%, down from 47%). Positive views rose sharply in the Philippines (65%, up from 44%) and China (65%, up from 58%).

Very large majorities have continued to have positive views in Italy (84%), France (81%), Spain (78%), Canada (71%), Australia (70%) and Ghana (66%).

Positive views have fallen only in Russia (53%, down from 61%) and Nigeria (58%, down from 66%), but the overall evaluations of Germany remain favourable in all these cases


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